Hunter questions capacity for efficiency savings

Key figures in local government have raised concerns about
delivering efficiency savings through regional procurement of
social care services.

The new president of the Association of Directors of Social
Services, Tony Hunter, told delegates that the target came at a
time of rising costs in the care home and home care sectors and
greater pressure to offer choice and increase uptake of direct

He said: “We must never close our minds to the possibilities, but
the simple truth is that there are no bulging back pockets, either
potential or undeclared, in the local government world I know, and
the realities of funding pressures must be faced.”

Sir Peter Gershon suggested in July that 35 per cent of the
£6.45bn efficiency savings local government will be
responsible for delivering by 2007-8 could be made through the
changes in procurement methods.

However, Hunter doubted that such a simple solution could be found
to a problem so complex.

Alison King, chair of the Local Government Association’s children
and young people board, echoed calls for greater clarity.

She said: “We need to be an awful lot clearer about what precisely
efficiency savings mean in this context and the particular
contribution that commissioning can make.

“It is already evident that ‘better commissioning’ is often about
redirecting resources more effectively and not necessarily saving

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